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SAVOR Taylor's Tacos' Chef Taylor Mason on being part of the Vegas event 'Pepsi Dig In'
by Andrew Davis
2024-02-08

This article shared 1448 times since Thu Feb 8, 2024
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On Feb. 8-10 (Super Bowl weekend), Taylor's Tacos Chef Taylor Mason and wife/co-owner Maya Mason will be showcasing two exclusive dishes at the Pepsi Dig In: Brunch with the Best takeover at Delano Las Vegas, giving Chicago residents a chance to cheer on their own on this national stage. The Chicago spot Taylor's Tacos (with its Steak 'n Eggs Dilla) will be taking part in an event that showcases dishes from some of the top Black-owned restaurants in the country, including LA's Bridgetown Roti and NYC's Lolo's on the Water, among others.

In a recent conversation, Taylor Mason recently talked with Windy City Times about the event, her restaurant's unique dishes and Black history.

NOTE: This conversation was edited for clarity and length.

Windy City Times: Chef Taylor, I remember going to the opening of your brick-and-mortar restaurant last year. You've told me that you got started in clubs and lounges—and now you're a nationally known brand. How does this journey feel?

Chef Taylor Mason: I know. It seems like I was just talking with you last May and said, "Let's go!" I think between Pepsi Dig In and [the competition on] Good Morning America, there's been this success. But I think it boils down to when opportunity knocks, we've been ready. I think that's what has made the difference for us.

WCT: Yes—because I'm sure you've seen so many businesses that have failed or fallen short. But when I saw you on Good Morning America, I [asked], "What the what?" [Laughs]

Mason: [Smiles] Yeah—that we were voted best taco in Chicago.

WCT: So tell me about the Pepsi Dig In. I understand it all started last October.

Mason: Yes. The program started in 2023. Five chefs from [across] the United States were brought in to do a residency at MGM Resorts International, so we got a chance to do our extra-juicy chicken tacos. It was really special.

And we got a chance to take a last-minute trip to Los Angeles, where it all started for me. My wife then asked, "Why don't we drive to Vegas and just get our tacos?" It was, like, the fastest trip ever. But just to be able to go into the hotel and order Taylor's Tacos on the West Coast was unreal.

People think that success happened overnight for us, but that's not true. We started in 2014 but it wasn't until 2018 that we kinda made the leap; I quit my job and Maya came later, and we were taking any pop-up we could get. Now, we're at almost 3,000 catering gigs, to date. For the Pepsi Dig In to be [happening] is just a full-circle moment.

WCT: By the way, how is the street-taco scene in LA?

Mason: It hasn't changed at all. It's a hop, skip and a jump from Mexico and the great flavors were all there.

WCT: So what's your dish in the Dig in?

Mason: It's our savory steak quesadilla [called the Steak 'n Eggs 'Dilla]. We took the quesadilla and put our spin on it. People know that we can do tacos but we can do a lot of other fun things, too. So we have this dish with our sweet poppin' potato hash, with guacamole and pico de gallo (for that freshness), and our top-secret sauce. And we're also [serving] eloTAY corn chowder, for that fun-in-the-sun vibe during the cooler months. We'll probably serve the chowder once we get back from Vegas.

WCT: For [those] who haven't tried Taylor's Tacos, what is the food all about?

Mason: Taylor's Tacos are street tacos with a whole lot of soul. We are paying homage to Mexican culture and cuisine, and we fuse the authentic Mexican street taco with a Black taco. And people ask, "What's a Black taco?" We're putting the Mexican street style—the corn tortilla, the butchered meat, the lime and cilantro—but we put our Black twist on it, making sure the meat is seasoned to perfection. And, of course, the Black taco has to have sour cream, so our secret sauce has a creamy element to it; there's also the cilantro, cheese and squeeze of lime. Then Maya puts her special twist on it by adding pickled red cabbage. There's a lot of flavor in it. It's just goodness in your mouth.

Taylor's Tacos has items that are soulful and sexy. Our taco of the week this week is called the Zaddy—it's an eggplant taco.

WCT: Got it! [Both laugh.]

Mason: And that's who we are. When we say it's an extra-juicy chicken taco, that's what it really is. We have our sexy crispy shrimp taco because the seasoning makes it sexy and yummy.

WCT: Would you ever compete on a show like Chopped?

Mason: I certainly wouldn't be opposed to it. I'm a competitor, from my basketball days. But right now I'm really excited about bringing people together, using tacos as a vehicle. I'm all about community right now. I've had enough competition [for a while].

WCT: And speaking of community, it's Black History Month, of course. What does Black history mean to you?

Mason: I'm so excited about this month, and it coincides with what Pepsi Dig In is doing. It's bringing Black culture, people, business and everything to the forefront. We've been overlooked in the past and I think that being able to put us on the map this month and all the months—that's what Black History Month is about, to me. I can do anything that anyone else can do, no matter what I look like, where I came from, what my sexual orientation is. We're the only Black lesbian-owned taco shop in the world, and I don't take that lightly. I want to keep paving the road for those who come behind me.

To check out what Taylor's Tacos offers in Chicago, visit www.taylorstacoschicago.com . To find out more about the Pepsi Dig In brunch, visit www.pepsidigin.com/brunchwithus/ .


This article shared 1448 times since Thu Feb 8, 2024
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